As a freshman engineering student, I remember vividly the day my professor announced we needed to know the answer before we performed the calculations. What in blazes does he mean? I thought to myself. Then he explained: if we don’t have an idea of what the answer should be when we start calculating, we’ll have no idea if we’ve gotten a reasonable answer at all. You know the adage: garbage in, garbage out. It’s a skill engineers have passed on to one another for centuries–does the answer I calculated make sense?… Read the rest
“When in command: command.” – Admiral Chester Nimitz
If being a leader means anything, it means taking charge and executing the responsibility others gave you.
For leadership to be authentic, we have to make decisions and take risks. The reason we’re hired into a position of leadership is to do just that; and if we’re too timid to use the authority our boss gives us then we’re not doing our jobs. In the military as in many professions, we strive to solve problems at the lowest level. “Delegating up” to the senior leaders in any organization is a sure-fire way to create organizational paralysis, but the responsibility to ensure decisions get made at the appropriate level fall on senior and junior leaders alike.… Read the rest
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
How do you listen as a leader? Have you ever really spent much time as a leader thinking about how you listen? A huge part of your success is determined by how you listen. There is the old adage that you have two ears and one mouth and should use them proportionally. The challenge with that adage for most of us is awareness; we may not spend much time observing how we listen. Some things to think about when it comes to how you listen:
Listening and hearing are two different things:
Hearing is a biological phenomenon that occurs in the body whereby sound waves register and vibrate in our ears “producing” a sound that we “hear.”… Read the rest
“A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue.
That’s why there are so few good conversations:
due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet.”
At its core, leadership is about conversations. As a leader, the quality of the conversations that you have with your team, and those in your business circle, determines your outcome as a leader. If you have effective conversations, both parties involved feel heard, and both parties have their needs understood and met. Conversely, if the conversation is not effective, then the results are less than expected or desired all around. As a leader you have more influence than you may realize on how to craft effective conversations.… Read the rest
“Gutsiest move I ever saw, Mav!”
Remember the scene in “Top Gun” when Charlie is reviewing previous dogfights and is debriefing Maverick’s latest engagement with the bogies? Charlie says, “The F-14 is defensive, he has a chance to bug out right here…better to retire and save your aircraft than push a bad position…. YOU MADE A BAD CHOICE. The encounter was a victory but we show it as an example of what not to do.”
In front of God and everybody Charlie tells Mav he goofed up but got lucky. Ouch, Mav you just got “owned” by a non-pilot technocrat.… Read the rest
“We are shaped by practices and shape ourselves through practices.”
What are you practicing as a leader? Leadership, like any endeavor is a skill that can be learned and honed through practice. Just scan any online bookseller and you will find thousands of books on leadership. Most are about how leaders act: i.e. they act with integrity; they create an atmosphere of trust. Few are the books are written about how leaders should be, and what to practice as a leader. In our continuing exploration of, What does it mean to be a leader? we want to first explore the concept of the practice of leadership.… Read the rest
“I’m Maverick.” Says Maverick on his initial gambit with the gorgeous Charlie.
“Did your mother not like you?” Says Charlie back to Maverick.
“No, it’s my call sign.” Replies Maverick.
The movie Top Gun forever put the names of Maverick, Goose and Iceman into our lexicon and gave the common person a feel for what a call sign is. Both the Air Force and Navy use call signs in their pilot communities and the practice is common amongst other elite military units. Sports teams use nicknames. It is rumored that President George W. Bush often used nicknames when addressing his team. … Read the rest
but it’s time to buzz the tower.”
My family has always had a fascination for the movie Top Gun. Admittedly, the closest I ever got to an F-14 was when one of them was refueling behind my KC-135 tanker. But we always loved the movie. My children were oft times forced, against their will, to watch the show again and again. My nephew, who as a teenager, literally wore out a pirated VCR copy of the movie, went on to be a great F-15 fighter pilot, skilled in the art of basic fighter maneuvering (or dogfighting).… Read the rest
“Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.”
I love reading all of the great blogs here on generalleadership.com. It is like having your own staff of great military leaders to learn from. Just recently, blogs on 6 Foundations of Followership and From Technical Expert to Successful Leader (both great reads) have been published. Have you ever wondered as a reader, how can I do that? How can I act with integrity and seek positive feedback? Can I successfully make the transition from a technical expert to a successful leader when I am operating from a mood of fear or lack belief in myself?… Read the rest
Nothing develops trust more than vulnerability…great leaders, authentic vulnerable leaders, require the ability to develop deep human connection
Author of ‘Fiercely Loyal‘
Just be yourself. How many times have you heard this statement in development sessions or during leadership training? I like this statement but it’s hollow. It’s missing something. Employees and subordinates are demanding leaders to become more authentic instead of just being themselves. Most subordinates know if you try being someone you’re not, especially in a key leadership position, it’s only a matter of time before you’re found out as an imposter. We see this all the time online.… Read the rest
“The trouble is…
you think you have time!”
When time becomes the transactional measure of merit you’d think the more we have of it the more valuable we become – to others and ourselves. Not!
Every day we hear self-important boasts declaring how busy we are, how little time we have, the degree of demand we are under, and how much others need us. The lens of time in these cases has become refracted. Our value propositions have become distorted. The less time we have and the more we are doing, the more important we promote ourselves to be. We brag about our lack of time and wear our weariness pinned to our chests like so many shiny medals of honor decreeing the rank of our productivity.… Read the rest
This is a story about the transition from Technical Expert to Successful Leader. Following a one-year tour in Afghanistan, I was reassigned to an Air Traffic Control (ATC) radar facility. Not just any ATC facility, but one of the larger and busier ones—the 2nd busiest joint-use airfield in the Air Force.
The 15-position facility is manned by two 40-person teams, responsible for the safe and expeditious movement of 180,000 annual aircraft operations across 4,600 square miles and six airports. Additionally these teams provide ATC support to the world-class European North Atlantic Treaty Organization Joint-Jet Pilot Training Program, which produces aviators for the NATO Alliance.… Read the rest
In military parlance, a Common Operating Picture (or “COP”) is a single presentation of the battlespace to a wide and distributed audience. The purpose is to provide common understanding and situational awareness for all involved. I’ve adapted this idea to graphically display the “battlespace” a leader has to understand so the team can achieve success. Leaders must harmonize the needs of their organization, their task, and individual team members to prevail. It’s a complex and people-focused job. If a leader can find the sweet spot in the “Leadership COP”, then they’re truly leading teams to high performance.… Read the rest
Leadership matters! Most people at least implicitly understand this concept and people that have studied and practiced leadership understand this concept at a deeper level. As an example, General Stanley McChrystal’s main takeaway from 34 years of service in the United States Army as a commander and leader, as he describes in his book, “My Share of the Task” is that leadership matters. Developing and selecting individuals for positions of authority is therefore one of the most important tasks that leaders are responsible for.… Read the rest
This article was co-authored with Col Stricklin by Jason Womack
Before you continue reading this article, pause for a moment. Just a moment. Look around at where you are. Think about what you were just doing before you started reading this article, and project out through the rest of today’s activities.
What happened in that pause? Could you do it? Or, maybe you thought, “I don’t have time to pause, I’m too busy.”
We only asked for a few seconds, something many people waste without even realizing. How critical are seconds? A perfect example the vitality of seconds can be found in the daily routine of the USAF Thunderbird Solo Team performing their signature “Knife-Edge Pass.”… Read the rest